Friday 15 November 2019

Sorry, this is only a three out of 10 for the self-employed

Brian Caulfield, head of Irish Venture Capital Association.
Brian Caulfield, head of Irish Venture Capital Association.

Brian Caulfield

It's difficult to know where to start in analysing this budget from the perspective of entrepreneurs.

The introduction of the €550 earned income-tax credit for entrepreneurs and the self-employed is to be welcomed.

It will reduce the disparity between entrepreneurs and PAYE workers, especially at the lower end of the income scale.

But let's not kid ourselves: it's one third of the PAYE tax credit, and the discriminatory 3pc USC supplement remains untouched. Other aspects of the budget "package" to support entrepreneurship are simply baffling.

The change to allow companies to raise larger amounts under the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) scheme does not address the lack of uptake of the scheme in any way whatsoever.

You would have to believe that this is either an appallingly cynical move to garner a headline, knowing that the change will have no impact on uptake, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem.

This will have no impact on the availability of seed-stage capital for high-growth companies.

The changes to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) are similar.

The reality is that an Irish entrepreneur will still pay more than three times the UK rate of CGT on anything but the very smallest of disposals.

It is extremely disappointing that nothing has been done to address the taxation of share options. It appears that the Department of Finance has ignored even the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation's submission on this topic. Moves on corporation tax and the Knowledge Development Box are of very little relevance to high-growth companies that don't expect to make a profit for many years.

In summary, this is a budget that takes a very small step towards tax equalisation for the widest possible group of entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

It does next to nothing to improve the environment for startups or to address our huge competitive disadvantage relative to the UK.

I give it three out of 10.

Irish Independent

Also in Business